How Often Should You Change the Water in a Cat Water Fountain? Vet-Approved Care Facts

If you struggle to get your kitty to drink water, you may have purchased a cat water fountain to encourage them to stay hydrated. The constantly running water may be more appealing to your cat than a bowl of water. While the movement helps the water stay fresher, you should still change the water in your cat’s fountain at least once a week based on the manufacturer’s recommendation. However, you should change it more frequently if you have multiple cats.

In this article, we’ll cover how to know when to change the water in your cat’s fountain and the other steps you should take to keep it clean and sanitary. We’ll also discuss other strategies to encourage your cat to drink more and why keeping your pet hydrated is vital.

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How to Decide How Often to Change the Water in Your Cat’s Fountain

Several factors help determine how often you should change your cat’s water in a fountain.

First, how many cats are using the fountain? The more cats that drink from the fountain, the faster the water disappears and the quicker it gets dirty with debris. If you have multiple cats, you may need to change the water as often as every 2–3 days.

You should also consider the manufacturer’s recommendation for the water fountain. Cat water fountains usually come with filters that keep the water clean, but they all work a bit differently. Read the directions for your fountain to find out how often the company recommends the water be changed.

Finally, examine the water in the fountain. Does it look cloudy, dirty or slimy? If so, go ahead and change it.

cat water fountain
Image Credit: Creative Cat Studio, Shutterstock

How to Keep Your Cat’s Water Fountain Clean

Any vessel that holds water will eventually develop slime and mold if not cleaned regularly. To prevent this problem in your cat’s water fountain, clean it thoroughly at least once a week. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for cleaning based on the type of water fountain you have.

Some parts of your water fountain may be dishwasher safe, while others will need to be hand-washed. When you clean the fountain, replace the water completely. If your water fountain has a filter, change it according to the recommended schedule, usually every 2-4 weeks.

Why Is It Important for Your Cat to Drink Water?

Cats will drink different amounts of water depending on what they are fed as well as their size, activity levels and health. Wet food contains 70-80% water, so if your cat regularly eats wet food they will need to drink less water.

It is important for cats to stay hydrated and just like us they can get dehydrated if their water intake is not enough for the fluids they are losing. This can be if they are unwell and not eating and drinking as much, or it can be caused by illness and increased loss of fluids like with vomiting or diarrhea. The signs of dehydration will vary depending on the severity but can include:

  • Dry gums
  • Decreased skin elasticity
  • Sunken eyes
  • Weakness
  • Constipation

If you are concerned your cat is not drinking enough or they are showing signs of being dehydrated or unwell then contact your veterinarian.

Cute cat drinking from water dispenser or water fountain
Image Credit: Creative Cat Studio, Shutterstock

Other Tips to Encourage Your Cat to Stay Hydrated

Not all cats enjoy drinking out of a water fountain. Some dislike the noise or find the process strange and unfamiliar. To help these cats stay hydrated, you’ll need to try different strategies.

First, you can experiment with different types and locations for your cat’s water bowls.

Try glass, ceramic, or metal bowls in various sizes and shapes, plastic bowls can taint the water. Place multiple water bowls around the house at various heights, including on counters, tables, and the floor. Cats prefer not to drink water which is near their food or toileting area. Change the water in the bowls daily and keep them clean to prevent slime buildup.

You can add a few drops of tuna juice or unsalted chicken broth to your cat’s water on occasion to encourage water intake.

Another option is adding canned food to your cat’s diet or switching from kibble completely.

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Depending on how many cats you have and the specific recommendations for your cat water fountain, you should expect to change the water every 2–7 days. Cats usually don’t like drinking dirty water, so there’s not much point in switching to a water fountain if you let the water get dirty.

If your cat suffers from health issues like diabetes or urinary tract disease, it’s especially important that they drink plenty of water. Talk to your vet about monitoring your cat’s water intake and additional strategies to ensure they stay hydrated.

Featured Image Credit: Vershinin89, Shutterstock

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